1. Schedule time for both work and playWhen facing a month and a half of final projects and big exams, it is very important to stay organized. As you begin scheduling time to start research or hold group meetings for various projects, ensure that you are being reasonable in your demands for yourself. It is neither fair, nor really a good idea, to schedule something like six hours of work on a Sunday afternoon. Instead, try to spread the work out; include something fun in between your study sessions and leave time for other important events like Thanksgiving dinner or your friends' birthdays.
2. Plan aheadIf planning time for fun wasn't a clear enough indicator of how important scheduling is, now we can say as clearly as possible: plan ahead! Read through those final project instructions now and see what you can complete well ahead of time. Some projects and papers might require more information or group work, but if you can get started on research or making decisions about different roles you can play within a group, now is the time. The more you can get done before Thanksgiving, the less miserable the last week before the end of the semester will be. This doesn't necessarily mean you must get all of your work done now; there are probably several tasks that need to be completed for this current week alone, as well as homework that is due tomorrow! So, think of it this way: if you can just sneak in a half hour to an hour each week to at least think about the long-term projects well before Thanksgiving, you can get a jumpstart into the final stretches well before the stress begins to build.
3. Ask for help when you need itIt is normal to feel stressed about final exams, essays, and research projects. Nevertheless, one of the best parts about being in school is that you can ask for help before you get overwhelmed. If you start on something early enough, you will have more time to ask trusted sources to edit or look over your work, as well as to help guide your next steps. If you are having difficulties handling all of the stress, or if you need extra time, many teachers are more amenable to giving you leeway if you approach them earlier rather than later. A midnight email the day before the project is due will not receive the same response as an in-person meeting a week or two before the deadline. Staying motivated through the end of the semester also means incentivizing yourself. Perhaps this means you can only buy your favorite candy or go catch a movie if you have a certain amount of work done – whatever makes sense for you personally. It also means prioritizing actions that will help keep you alert and healthy, like sleeping. As tempting as it may be to skip a few hours of sleep when things start to get overwhelming, this will only cause you to slow down and subsequently get less work done. Whatever steps you are taking to stay motivated, remember that there is always a support network in school through your teachers and guidance counselors if your commitments get too out of hand.
Andrea Deck is a professional tutor and contributing writer with Varsity Tutors, a live learning platform that connects students with personalized instruction to accelerate academic achievement.